Fashion,Beauty & spa

Interview Olivier Courtin Clarins

Clarins Group brand portfolio includes Clarins, Azzaro, Thierry Mugler, My Blend and Clarinsmen. A major player in the Beauty sector, today the Group enjoys an international presence in all segments of the cosmetics market - Skin Care, Make-Up and Fragrance. With its network of 20 subsidiaries, over 140 local agents and a total of over 6,000 staff worldwide, the Clarins Group continues to explore new horizons by widening its product offer and carrying out external growth operations. In June 2008, the Courtin-Clarins family made a $3.6 billion offer to buy out minority shareholders of ClarinsSA in order to take the cosmetics company private. The deal was completed in September 2008.[Luxe magazine spoke to dynamic Olivier Courtin-Clarins, Clarins Managing Director .
“Do you know where rue Berteaux-Dumas is?” I ask the waiter serving drinks on the terrace outside brasserie Durand-Dupont. “Of course, next on the right! Are you looking for Clarins?” Yes, I laugh, confirming my opinion that all waiters are part time detectives with a penchant for Clarins products.

Clarins headquarters, I discover, following the waiter's instructions, are located in a handsome building on a quiet Neuilly street. Through the glass doors and up to the 5th floor to meet Dr.Olivier Courtin- Clarins, Managing Director of the legendary brand founded in 1954 by his father Jacques Courtin-Clarins, the year Olivier was born. Into a spacious, airy art and sculpture filled room, an outsize desk is covered with books, papers, bottles, jars. “I test all the products up here”, he says, following my fascinated gaze. Opposite the desk six apple trees are planted, like vines, behind a window. “There's not many left, I've eaten them all”, he smiles.

Dr. Courtin-Clarins, a tall handsome man, wears a superbly cut Thierry Mugler suit, deeply tanned from his recent summer vacation. He leads me to a large oval dining table, at the far end shelves are neatly filled with outsize art books featuring Dali, Magritte, Miro and other artists I've never heard of. A butler pops his head round the door asking if we want tea or coffee, we are at luxury central and it feels great.

“Luxury for me is to have time; in my ideal world the weekend lasts four days! It's to have the time to wax my Weston shoes, a very precise chore. It's probably because I love skin so much that I take such good care of them! It's having the time to take my youngest daughter to school and buy my fruit and vegetables in Neuilly market”, he says.

Clarins, an orthopaedic surgeon, at Hôpital Foch,Paris, before his father (who died in 2007) asked him to join the family firm, says he's a simple man, for him the height of luxury is to have two of everything one needs for everyday life. And one luxury he would never give up is his Guy Couach motor yacht, a maquette of which sits under a glass case in the office.

It's important to keep fit, which Courtin-Clarins does by riding his VTT bicycle around Paris. From his chalet in Meribel he skis, climbs up mountains and ski's down. Summer holidays are spent on the boat in the Mediterranean en famille. Prisca his daughter, created and runs The Nail Factory, a chain of high-end manicure salons in Paris. Her twin, Jenna, is a graphic artist and Charlotte is just four. “I'm surrounded by beautiful women, and I adore it, I love and respect women”, he admits.

Dr. Clarins joined the family firm in 1984. “When I started I had to prove myself and I didn't leave Foch hospital until 1995. The brand became a passionate adventure for me and little by little I integrated into the company. In our team at the hospital, everyone was important, from the nurses to the physical therapists. It's the same at Clarins: from the beauty therapists to the board of directors”.

Much of Dr. Courtin-Clarins' year is spent travelling, recently to Asia where the 100% plant based products are highly appreciated. Yes, formulas change from country to country, specific “Whitening” products developed for the Asian market, but the classic Beauty Flash, for tired skin is always the same. “Let's be honest, there are no miracles”, he says. “But if you read my book “The Courtin Concept” Six keys to a Great Skin at Any Age”, you'll note that through my years of studying plants, research, interviews with patients and colleagues, seminars and extensive reading it's not only creams that keep your skin supple and wrinkle free. Nourish your skin from within with proper nutrition”, he advises. He's against smoking, substance abuse, lack of sleep, stress, pollution and over exposure to the sun and winter climate. “And, when you're buying cosmetic products, just because they're off the charts expensive doesn't mean they're the best. If he could have just one product it would probably be the Double Serum, created in 1985, updated six times since. “But, look on my desk, that's not a fair question”, he laughs.

Custom-made products for each client are at the base of the brand new Clarins concept. The just launched spa, “MY BLEND by Clarins” is the first of its' kind in the world, a white Philippe Starck designed wonderland, located at the newly transformed Raffles Royal Monceau, Paris. “With “My Blend”, the blend, texture and application techniques are selected specifically for each client with the aid of a custom-build machine”, explains Dr. Courtin-Clarins. “And everyone leaves with his/her own package of products, combined according to the needs and nature of the skin. Each therapist is a “Beauty Coach”, providing the client with guidance and support”, he adds. The spa includes not only state-of-the-art facial treatments, but Clarins face and body treatments, a gym with personal coaches, sauna and hamman as well as a 28- meter pool, the biggest in any Paris hotel.

Before leaving I ask Dr Courtin-Clarins about the handsome outsize globe that stands by his desk. “It was my father's and is very precious. It's a Newton, made in London in 1875”. Is there anywhere on it you dream of visiting”, I enquire. “Hmm”, he replies stroking his chin. “Probably Mongolia, but I'd only go in July or August, the rest of the year it's either too hot or too cold. One day, one day, when I have time”.

Octobre 2012
By Margaret KEMP
Spa My Blend by Clarins
37 avenue Hoche, Paris, 8th
T: 00 33 1 42 99 88 99
Open Weekdays from 6.30am-10pm
Sunday 6.30am-8.30pm
Margaret Kemp is Editor at Large on

1hr 20 - 295€